Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Seagoville, TX


Once upon a time---70 years ago--a little boy named Hal Smith appeared with his parents on the cover of Life magazine as the youngest tightrope walker in the country (or maybe the world).  His parents owned a circus and Hal grew up around clowns and jugglers and elephants and all kinds of strange and exotic people.  At the end of every circus season his parents and all the animals returned to Seagoville to the 'Elephant Barn' to wait out the winter.  That elephant barn still exists and 70 years later it is the retirement home for Hal and his wife, Chloe.  It is in a country setting, bucolic and peaceful with remnants of past lives scattered amongst the leaves.  

My husband and I met them in 1983 when they happened into our restaurant, Crickets, in Houston one afternoon.  They stayed for two years--selling their artwork and helping out in the restaurant.

Hal had become a wood carver (among many talents) and married an artist and his muse, Chloe. They created a   home and a studio in the elephant barn but their health is not good now (Chloe is losing her eye sight and Hal is recovering from a nasty cancer).  Through it all they still continue to laugh in the face of despair, toss out pearls of wisdom to all who will listen and take in strays who innocently wander onto the grounds--there is a boarder named John that lives in the guest bedroom and helps around the barn and there is a goat that wandered down the driveway one day and stayed. 

They are counted among my dearest friends--I love them both and am so grateful they have been in my life.


  1. Hi Toni, This was a very nice conversation about Hal and Chloe. Where are you now? Love you, Mary

  2. Thinking about those elephants today and found this article. I thought everybody had winter elephants. I was always glad to see them in my youth. Bless them all.